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Religion and faith

A rehearsal for choral evensong may not be the first place one would go to look for inspiration for writing. Nevertheless a comment made by the visiting choirmaster struck a chord with me!

At the beginning of one work, our entry was not confident and together. He likened it to people trying to use a moving walkway and acted out the way that they might hesitate before getting on. Our walkway was the introduction on the organ; we had to get on at the correct point without hesitation.

The thought which occurred to me was that taking a step of faith is very similar.

I remember as a pre-teen being convinced that Christianity was the best religion. I had been brought up in a family where both parents were confirmed members of the Church of England and I had attended Sunday School from an early age.

At (day) school we studied comparative religion, looking at the major religions at that time – Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Humanism may have been mentioned as well. It seemed to me that if everyone practised the teachings of Jesus Christ the world would be a wonderful place.

What I didn’t understand at that time was the difference between religion and faith.

Religion is concerned with rules. Judaism, from which Christianity arose, is full of rules. Christianity includes the Old Testament (similar to the Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament, which begins with four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, the story of his early followers (The Acts of the Apostles), letters (Epistles) to Churches and individuals and a vision of the future (The Revelation of St John the Divine).

The letter to the Hebrews lists people of faith from the Old Testament and explains how they lived out their faith. Hebrews 11

Christianity differs from other religions in an important way. Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah. Adherents to Judaism are still waiting for the Messiah. As far as I am aware in Islam Jesus is regarded as a prophet, but not as the Son of God. In the Old Testament the Spirit of God rested on a few individuals, sometimes only for a short time, while they performed an important task or prophesied.

The prophet Joel looked forward to a time, when God would pour out his Spirit on all people Joel 2:28-29

Christians believe that this began on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to those who believed in Jesus Christ. Acts 2

It is easy to mistake Christianity for a set of rules. Anyone who tries to be a Christian by obeying rules is bound to discover that it is impossible. However, Christianity is a way of living in a relationship with the living God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through this relationship, which is strengthened through worship, prayer, Holy Communion, Bible-reading and fellowship with other believers, Christians are changed from within to become more Christ-like. We need to trust God to give us his strength rather than act or speak in our own strength.

Our society emphasises self-improvement, but Christians should be looking to God to improve them. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Christianity can only be proved to be true from within. Without taking the step of faith and beginning to trust the God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is impossible to know whether Christianity is true. There is no benefit to those, who do not believe and trust.

It is like knowing that the moving walkway would save time and effort, but failing to step onto it.

Have you taken the step of faith?

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

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What I read in December 2017

Unusually I didn’t reach the end of any books in December apart from my regular reading, which doesn’t usually feature here. I have been using daily readings from the Bible Reading Fellowship for many years, with occasional breaks, when I have tried readings from other publishers, such as CWR or Scripture Union. New Daylight has been my usual reading matter since it took over from its predecessor – Daylight, I seem to remember – years ago. For the last couple of years I have also been reading The Upper Room, a publication written by some of its readers, rather than by theologians. I know one or two of the contributors. Both these booklets are published three times a year in January, April and September. Thus reaching the end of the year coincides with reaching the end of an issue.

I have not yet finished reading the French translation of The Prisoner of Azkaban.

The books I received for Christmas are in the photo, which shows what I may be writing about soon. (The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane, another in the French series of Harry Potter, a biography of C. S. Lewis and Jane Hawking’s book about her marriage to Richard Hawking, the physicist.)

My Christmas books

My Christmas books

Some of the reasons reading books has not featured much in December are that I have been busy knitting, taking part as a choir member in concerts and church services and doing my Christmas correspondence.

I have also been reading blogs, but again that is something I usually do alongside any books I may have started.

For Booklovers, if you haven’t already encountered the blog of dovegreyreader, I recommend it. Also for writers, More than Writers to which I contribute posts is usually interesting.

 

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Wishing all my readers a Happy Christmas

It is nearly Christmas. I am sticking to my weekly posts, so this is the one where I wish you all peace and joy at Christmas. I have some photos of Christmas decorations on Sue’s words and pictures. I am sharing a different one here. Perhaps those who prefer to celebrate a winter holiday will enjoy this.

Christmas decorations with a view

Christmas decorations with a view

Here are some links to previous Christmas posts.

https://suestrifles.wordpress.com/2016/12/22/christmas-greetings-to-all-my-readers/

https://suestrifles.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/christmas-is-nearly-here/

https://suestrifles.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/christmas-eve-prayer/

https://suestrifles.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/carolling-merrily/

The last link in the list has a carol to listen to in case you haven’t heard enough yet!

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing at this season of the year I wish you well.